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Jeremy Atkinson

Religion Comparison Paper

RELS-2300-004-Sp17
I think its easy to turn a blind eye to other religions for the mere fact that we dont

understand them or even believe in them. The statement All religions are ultimately the same

may have had a different meaning to me if you asked me that before beginning this class. My

initial reaction would probably have been, I dont know much about them but I know they are

all different. But after studying and visiting some of these different religious services, I have

come to the conclusion that the statement all religions are ultimately the same is false in a

physical, outward sense. Though they seem different to those of us looking from the outside, but

ultimately, all religions guide their people to attain personal salvation in their own likeness,

whatever that may be. Each religion has their own way of worshipping, has their own God they

worship and their beliefs of his role in their lives, and has different histories of how their religion

came about and who leads them today in these ancient worship services passed down generations

and generations. But, it is clear that each religion is ultimately striving for their own

sanctification despite they ways, or in whom, they worship.

WORSHIP

Christians worship, usually in a church building which, to them, is considered a sacred

place. Usually their worship services, also known as Liturgy, follow a set pattern for every

meeting, although, the Holy Spirit can guide where the worship service goes from time to time.

Christians in the Catholic church participate in what is called the Eucharist, or in other words

mass, and is part of their regular worship. Even though the Protestants and Roman Catholics

along with the Orthodox participate in the same passing of wine and bread, they revere it

differently as to how it helps them spiritually.

The Protestants view the bread as the body of Christ and the Wine (or grape juice) as his

blood. Whereas, the Roman Catholics and Orthodox believe that they are transformed by the
Holy Spirit into the blood and body of Christ. Even though this event is viewed differently to

these sects it is a very spiritual and important experience for them to participate in every worship

service.

I have experienced other religions than my own before, for example Catholic and Baptist

services. They were different than my own ways of worship for sure but those religions were not

really foreign to me. Visiting the Hindu worship service was my first eye opening experience to

another religion that was new to me. I didnt know what to expect when arriving for the service

but I was quickly entranced by their ritual.

Quite different from the Christians, Hindus believe in one supreme God, yet worship

other deities as well, there were many things that caught my attention about their service and

beliefs. Many things that were VERY different from my own way of worshipping. They begin

their service with prayers that lasted quite some time. After the prayers the pujaris, or Brahmin

priest, cleanses the deity with either honey, butter, or milk. It is treated as if it were a living King

or Queen. The deity is then adorned with clothing and then given food and other substance from

those in attendance as an offering. This ritual is to show respect and gratitude to that specific

deity for all he or she does for their worshippers day after day. As you can see, their worship

service is very physical and tangible, whereas in the Christian services, though they have

tangible bread and wine, it is more of a spiritual connection than physical. Yet to each religion it

is satisfying that need to be sanctified before their God.

GOD OR OTHER SUPREME BEING

In learning about who different religions worship or believe in, I learned a lot. I did not

realize exactly how differently God was viewed or how many other Gods were worshipped. In
Judaism, monotheism, or belief in one God, is their belief. Basically, believing that there is one

Creator God, cause of all existent things (Fisher, pg. 279). In Judaism, the essential

commandment for all humans is to love God as they see him as a loving Father who has infinite

knowledge and power. I could see this when I visited their service. It was a humble place of

worship, not overly decorated or ornate, but everyone there seemed to be there for one purpose

which was to worship God first, and then gain personal, spiritual witness while worshiping.

Muslims also believe in one God. Like the Jews, they believe that there is one Supreme

being but in the Islam religion they believe that everything you do, should be in Gods name.

Allah, meaning The God, is the name mostly referred to God, however, there are also ninety-nine

other names he is known as. Each meaning something different describing a different attribute of

The God. For example, al-Ali means The Most High and ar-Raqib means The Watchful (Fisher

pg. 383). Each name showing the totality of the One God they believe in. Islamic religion

expects unity with this One Being. Everything is unified with God. In Islam, even politics and

science are not separate from religion. They believe it all points back to, and should be one with,

God because they believe he is all knowing and created everything for a divine purpose.

Islams monotheistic belief in God requires that they do not worship anything else. They

do not worship shrines or statues or even things of nature, for it was God that ultimately created

them. Clearly monotheism is a common attribute among religions. They may focus on

worshiping one God, but their main focus is on different aspects of how to do that.

Of course, in contrast, there are religions who do not believe in monotheism. Going back

to the Hindu religious service we see that, yes, they believed in a Supreme Being but they also

worshipped other deities as well. Each deity in their religion does something different for their

people. I remember at the site visit the Brahmin Priest mentioned that although they believe there
is one Supreme God, they also believe that he cannot be everywhere or do everything for us.

Hence the belief they have in the other deitys and their roles they play in their religion. Each

deity is very respected and esteemed in their religion. Hindus belief in their God is completely

contrary to the belief in the other two regions mentioned above but in personally visiting all three

of these religions services I did see the same thing in every worship; people wanting to please

their God. Whoever he or she may be. Be it God or a deity, they wanted to show respect and gain

personal satisfaction in return.

HISTORIES AND LEADERS

Each religion has a different basis and history in which their foundation lies. Some have

prophets or leaders of sorts that have been regarded and looked to for years, even after their

passing. Some also have holy texts that they read from and use daily or in their worship services.

All these prophets and texts have a beginning and every religion has its own story.

Lets take Buddha for example. He was a man that was not destined to be a prophet, per

say, when he was born. He was of great wealth and had all he could desire until one day he

thought that maybe it wasnt what life was about. After having visions and seeing that life will

eventually end he took it upon himself to test the limits of creation itself. He essentially left all

behind him, including his wife and family, and removed himself from society. In short, when he

returned he was nursed back to health, as it was failing due to refusing to eat, also known as

fasting for long periods, while he was away, he was inspired to teach those who would listen to

him what his realizations were while he was wandering. Buddha became an icon for the people.

His example of selflessness and renewal was set as a guideline for how Buddhists should live

their lives. When Buddha died, he left no successor, no one to continue his teachings other than

what he had already taught. His teachings went on and his beliefs spread widely with the
Dharma, the teachings of Buddha, as their guide. Today Buddha is still revered and respected

and the Dharma is what they use as their guideline to worship and live their lives instead of a

prophet or leader of some sort.

The religion, Jainism, has a similar beginning. A man named Mahavira, the great hero,

chose to, at the age of 30, wander as a spiritual seeker. He also fasted extensively, wandered

naked in the extreme heat of Summer and cold weather of Winter, and suffered tormenting from

others. After achieving liberation, he began spreading his teachings. His teachings were,

however, not written down but have been passed down by other leaders appointed by those

before them.

Taking this class has definitely opened my eyes to not only the differences of religions of

the world but the similarities. Surprising enough, there are similarities spread across all religions.

They ultimately want to please the god they worship and attain the sanctification of their own

soul.